FitnessRx for Women presents 50 simple ideas that will place you among the small percentage of women who lose weight successfully and keep it off. Combining a few of these simple techniques will make weight loss easier than you thought possible. The secret of losing weight is not a magic pill or radical techniques that shock your body. Rather, it’s a combination of small, painless changes that help you eat less food and burn more calories. The weight-loss solution is easier than you think.
By themselves, none are miracle cures for losing fat or building a fitness model body. Taken together, they are powerful tools that will help you lose weight and keep it off for the rest of your life.
1. Weigh every day. The scale holds you accountable. Women who weigh themselves daily lose more weight and maintain lost weight better than women who weigh only occasionally.
2. Make a public announcement about your weight-loss plans. Tell people that you are on a diet and exercise program. This will create peer pressure and expectations that will motivate you to stay on your program
3. Believe you can lose weight. Be your own cheerleader and think positively about weight loss.
4. Read inspirational stories about women who successfully lost weight. They did it, and so can you.
5. Set realistic goals. Losing 20, 50 or 100 pounds is overwhelming. Start off small. Instead of trying to lose all that weight quickly, begin conservatively by losing 5 pounds. Small weight losses help your metabolism adjust gradually. Remember, yard-by-yard is hard; inch-by-inch is a cinch.
6. Follow a program. Weight-loss programs such as liquid diet replacements, Weight Watchers, the Atkins diet or the 10,000-step program promote weight loss because they help people reduce or expend calories systematically. Women enjoy personal trainers and exercise classes because they take the guesswork out of exercise. Most systematic programs are better than guesswork and wishful thinking.
7. Eat only when you’re hungry. Don’t eat a hearty meal just because the clock tells you it’s lunchtime or dinnertime.
8. Keep a weight-loss diary. Write down your daily weight, diet, exercise and energy level. The diary helps keep you on track. Free online diet and exercise logs are available at www.fitday.com, www.myfitnesspal.com, www.my-calorie-counter.com and www.download.com.
9. Diet with a friend. Misery loves company. Weight loss is more effective when you do it with a friend or group of friends. Online, pair up with other women trying to lose weight on www.weightlossbuddy.com.
10. Look in the mirror nude every day. Clothes can cover muffin tops and cellulite, but looking in the mirror sans clothes is the ultimate test. Place mirrors around the house so you can see the real you.
11. Take pictures. Take a nude or bikini photo with a digital camera. You can rationalize about your weight in your mind, but a picture is worth a thousand words.
12. Join a weight-loss support group. 66 percent of Americans are obese or overweight. Almost every community has weight-loss support groups that will provide motivation and teach you effective weight-loss methods.
13. Get the support of your significant others. Losing weight is extremely difficult if your spouse, friends and family don’t support you. Tell them about your commitment to weight loss and ask for their encouragement.
14. Hang out with thinner people. A Harvard University study found that overweight people tend to have overweight friends— the fat lifestyle is contagious. Try to associate with people who exercise and follow healthy diets by joining a health club, taking an exercise class or playing a sport through the local recreation department.
15. Watch TV shows about weight loss, diet and exercise. Shows like “The Biggest Loser” are sometimes over the top, but they do help motivate people to lose weight. Cable channels have entire sections dedicated to fitness and diet. Watch them for information and motivation.
16. Give your “fat clothes” to charity. You will lose weight and won’t fail, so there is no use holding on to clothes you won’t wear again. Once you throw away those clothes, it will cost too much money to gain weight.
17. Lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. The body regulates fat storage in the brain with feedback from fat cells, the liver, blood chemicals and muscles. Rapid weight loss triggers fat controllers to slow metabolism and increase appetite. Lose weight gradually and give your body a chance to adapt to a lower weight.
18. Get a body composition test. Many universities and private health clubs offer body composition tests that measure fat-free weight and percent fat. The most accurate methods include DEXA, underwater weighing and Bod Pod (air displacement). Skinfolds and bioelectrical impedance are less accurate, but still give you valuable information. Body mass index (measure of proportion of weight-to-height) is used in population obesity studies but is less valuable for individuals.
19. Choose a diet plan and stick to it. People lose weight on almost all popular reduced-calorie diets. Low-carbohydrate diets help people lose weight best during the first six months of dieting. The long-term effects are less clear. Avoid extreme starvation diets.
20. Diet and exercise work best. The combination of diet and exercise work best for long-term weight control. Exercise helps preserve muscle mass and prevents the decrease in metabolic rate (caloric consumption) that occurs with weight loss.
21. Eat smaller meals in the afternoon and evening. Eating most of your calories in the morning promotes weight loss. Eat small dinners and avoid late-night snacks.
22. Watch less television. Fatter people watch more television. Watch 1 to 2 hours less television every day.
23. Eat five small meals per day. Eating many small meals increases metabolic rate and the energy cost of digestion. The effect is not great, but every calorie counts.
24. Eat breakfast. The body’s fuel stores empty after 6-9 hours of sleep. Skipping breakfast encourages overeating at lunchtime and dinner.
25. Eat protein foods for breakfast. The liver converts the amino acids in proteins into blood sugar, which helps prevent hunger.
26. Eat more low-fat yogurt. Eating three servings of low-fat yogurt per day helps cut hunger and promotes fat loss.
27. Don’t eat family style. People eat more when they can take all they want. Give each person a serving.
28. Understand the limitations of weight-loss drugs. Drugs such as orlistat (Xenical, alli), sibutramine (Meridia) and modafinil (Provigil) are somewhat beneficial, but people generally regain the lost weight when they stop taking the drugs. Following a healthy lifestyle is preferable to weight-loss drugs.
29. Read food labels. Many foods are surprisingly high in calories, saturated and trans fats, and simple sugars. Food labels help you make healthy choices.
Activities that Burn Fat
30. Walking. This is the mother of all exercises. Most people can walk safely. Walk for 1 hour a day if this is your main form of exercise. Pick up the pace if you want faster results.
31. Running. Running will burn two or more times more calories than walking. Build up gradually, because running can cause joint and muscle pains if you do too much.
32. Cycling. This is a wonderful way to exercise. Ride in a safe place and wear a helmet. Buy a good-quality bike that serves your needs.
33. Swimming. This activity is not as good as running or cycling for losing weight, but it builds muscles and makes you feel good.
34. In-line skating. This new type of exercise burns plenty of calories and is very sexy. Wear a helmet and pads to avoid road rash.
35. Skateboarding. This is a favorite sport of the Triple-X generation. Skateboarding is a good alternative activity when you can’t jump out of airplanes, bungee jump, hang glide or snowboard.
36. Rowing. This activity used to be the purview of wealthy preppies at Harvard, Oxford and Yale. Now, ordinary women can punt down the Thames or even the East River.
37. Wild sex. Long, passionate, wild sex resembling the floor exercise in women’s gymnastics at the Olympics is best for shaping and fat burning.
39. Hiking. Even large cities, such as L.A., Chicago and New York, have hiking trails that let you get some exercise in a tranquil setting. Bookstores have maps of local hiking trails that can make your outings varied and interesting.
40. Backpacking. Camping, for many women, is staying at the Hyatt Regency with the door open. If you like the great outdoors, backpacking is a great fat burner. Load your pack with a sleeping bag and food, and take off for a few days in the nearest wilderness area. A few days in the backcountry will leave you feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and thinner. With backpacking, anything you eat you have to carry, so there’s an incentive to travel light and eat less.
Burn More Fat at the Health Club
41. Train with weights. You look best in a bikini when you’re toned and lean. Weight training burns almost the same number of calories as aerobics, and it also builds muscle so you look fit and healthy.
42. Treadmill. The treadmill is the best health club machine for burning calories and increasing aerobic capacity. Exercising on a treadmill in an air-conditioned health club can be a lot better than training outside in the cold or on a hot, muggy day.
43. Stationary bike. The bike builds endurance capacity and overloads your leg muscles, which will make you look lean and fit. You can purchase excellent bikes at sporting good stores at reasonable prices.
44. Elliptical trainer. These machines and next generation trainers like the Cybex Arc allow you to reach high heart rates while minimizing impact on the knees, hips and spine.
45. Cross-country ski machine. Ski machines let you work upper and lower body muscles at the same time. It will prepare you for outdoor cross-country skiing.
46. Supine bike. Many people like the supine bike because the seat is more comfortable than a conventional upright bike. It gives the illusion of exercising while lying down.
47. Rowing machine. Rowing machines build aerobic capacity and the large muscles of the upper and lower body. Some machines are hooked up to computers that allow you to compete against rowers from around the world.
48. Plyometrics. Plyometrics are bounce exercises that increase speed and power for sports like volleyball, soccer and basketball. These are fun and develop fitness you can use in your daily life.
49. Water aerobics. Many health clubs have pools for water aerobics. Why not combine time in the pool with running or resistive exercises. Most upper end clubs have water aerobics classes.
50. Exercise classes. Many women need the support of other people to exercise. Whether you enjoy step, yoga, spinning, kickboxing or Pilates— most gyms have classes that will interest almost everyone.
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